Rhys Ford is one of my auto-buy authors, so the chance to read her steam punk novella could not be turned down.
Title: Clockwork Tangerine
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
My Rating: 4.75 of 5 stars
First of all, the title ‘Clockwork Tangerine’ feels to me like a lovely combination of ‘Tangerine Dream’ and ‘Clockwork Orange’ and that intrigued me from the offset. This short tale is set in an Alternative or Altered Universe where Britain and the Commonwealth really do ‘rule the waves’ and San Francisco is part of that Commonwealth. Written with a nod towards Phillip K Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ which was also set in San Francisco. The skies are filled with the ‘bloated tick-like balloons’ of the industrialists and steam controlled contraptions are seen on the streets. Into this setting we meet Marcus, a Viscount, whose Father, a Duke was killed by an missed remnant, a ‘skitter’, of a war. The war, between the rulers of the Commonwealth and a society, which combined the arcane and scientific to create war machines, capable of great harm. The unwitting inventor of these weapons, was a genius boy of fourteen, nicknamed ‘The Toymaker’. When the society is defeated the ringleaders are executed and Robin Harris, The Toymaker horrifically branded with an ‘S’ for sodomite.
Years later Marcus rescues Robin, from a group of thugs who beat him unconscious, and nurses him to health. Their meeting changes both of their lives and allows both men to accept their ‘perversions’ and live their lives as openly as their society allows, together.
This is a beautifully written steam punk novella and one of the few I’ve read where the dystopian vision did not overpower the story line. Steam punk and Dystopian Fantasy and Sci-Fi, are usually amazingly constructed and visualised but often very depressing. This story however, is not and there is an HEA and a bright ending. My only criticism is that on two occasions the ‘leap in time’ between chapters left a feeling of having missed something relevant. However, I was even more enamoured of this novella when I took note of the language used. The air of Victorian England is conjured not just by objects such as ‘gas lanterns’ and ‘cudgels’, though the juxtapostion of the archaic with the modern is again, pure steam punk but by the words themselves. Rhys talks of ‘replacing someone’s sight with a mechanical gee-gaw’ and a ‘nictitating mechanical eye’. Towards the end Robin invents an ‘air-skimming calliope’, which is ‘caromed…over the length of the greensward…’ all perfectly wonderful language used in 19th century England. Clockwork Tangerine is authentically steam punk, the language authentically archaic and the enjoyment immense.
Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i, then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.
Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats, a black Pomeranian puffball, a bonsai wolfhound, and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep of a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a laptop, and a red Hamilton Beach coffeemaker.
Visit Rhys’s blog at http://rhysford.wordpress.com/ or e-mail Rhys at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to thank the author for providing us with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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